Joshua 1 (NRSV)
God’s Commission to Joshua
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2“My servant Moses is dead.
Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.
3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
In Joshua we find that God is ready to do something new for his people. The Israelites had been slaves in Egyptian bondage and in their agony had cried out to Yahweh. He had heard their cries, and he delivered them out of their slavery to be his people. Now, however, because of their sin, they were wandering in the wilderness on the backside of the Jordan River,, with no land of their own. They began to long for something more stable, and God wanted to give them that security. It is interesting to recognize how many of the aspirations in the human heart have their origin in the heart of God. He looks with pleasure on the basic human desires because he gave them to us, and he wants to be given the opportunity to meet those needs.
We must realize our dependence upon God for the meeting of our needs. We must choose not to force circumstances to fit our desires. We must trust him. If we are receptive to him, there is no earthly power great enough to keep us from enjoying the good that he wants to give us. God’s promise to Joshua emphasizes this truth: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of this life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6 King James Version). Oftentimes we look at our circumstances and feel that there are too many obstacles and too many enemies for God’s promises to actually reach fulfillment. It is only our shortsightedness that causes us to doubt him. His promise is that there is nothing outside of us that can keep us from enjoying what he wants to give. Nothing has the power to frustrate the purposes of God for me—except me.
6“Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Don Moen wrote a song that has meant a lot to many of us over the years, since it repeats the Lord’s words of encouragement to Joshua. “Be Strong and Take Courage.”
Preparations for the Invasion
10Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11“Pass through the camp, and command the people: ‘Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.’”
12To the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13“Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.’
Hebrews 4:1-2, 8-11 (New International Version)
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. . .
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
14Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan. But all the warriors among you shall cross over armed before your kindred and shall help them, 15until the Lord gives rest to your kindred as well as to you, and they too take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land and take possession of it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan to the east.”
16They answered Joshua: “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18Whoever rebels against your orders and disobeys your words, whatever you command, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.